Today marks the two year anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy in Bangladesh, which is discussed in my original “What is Fast Fashion?” post below. I got a ton of questions, comments, and appreciative notes from girls who didn’t know what was happening in the fast fashion industry, and I hope it’s motivated you guys to take a more critical look at your shopping habits.
I know I can’t force anyone to stop buying fast fashion, but I do hope to inspire people to look deeper into the brands they endorse and support. Don’t feel bad for how you’ve shopped in the past – be honest with yourself now and become a smarter shopper for the future.
The Fashion Revolution – a global coalition of designers, academics, writers, business leaders, and parliamentarians – sees the Rana Plaza disaster of April 24, 2013 as a metaphorical call to arms. Fashion Revolution Day is held annually on this day to commemorate the tragedy and generate awareness about fast fashion practices. Fashion Revolution Day’s mission is to keep the most vulnerable in the supply chain in the public eye, and show the world that change is possible. Read more about their mission and why we need a fashion revolution here.
Stop looking at the knockoff designs and cheap price tags of your favorite fast fashion brands, and start looking into the people who make them. I promise – you’ll be
surprised horrified when you learn the truth. I originally wrote this post in October of 2014 to share what I learned after I first discovered how fast fashion, well… happened. And let’s be real, we’ve all turned a blind eye to it for a long time.
I don’t think anyone is stupid enough to think clothes costing mere dollars can actually be made in a fair, ethical manner… But we want to save a buck and shop a lot more than care, so we turn a blind eye to the inhumane truth on the other end of the manufacturing line. We chant, “ignorance is bliss!” while checking out our new supercute fast fashion fit in the mirror.
More like, ignorance is deadly.
My purpose with researching and writing about fast fashion is not to call anyone out or make you feel bad for your current shopping habits. I’m writing in hopes that I get you thinking. Like, did you know most of the factory workers in the Rana Plaza tragedy were women, aged 18-20 making a range of 12 to 24 cents per hour? PER. HOUR. They work 90-100 hours a week and are given two days off a month. When I was 18, I babysat and made over $20 an hour, and thought I was working way harder and deserved more (obviously). What a fucking reality check.
We should all be fully aware of the truth of this industry by now – buying fast fashion means supporting brands who outsource their labor to parts of the world like Bangladesh because it is much cheaper than domestically so the COMPANY has a greater profit margin.
Your money is going to, I don’t know, the H&M heir who just became the youngest billionaire in Europe, or the CEO of Missguided, which reported a 90% jump in turnover and ~100M pounds in sales for 2014. But those workers slaving over your clothes, the actual goods you paid for? They won’t see any of that. Inditex, Zara’s parent company, generated over 22 BILLION DOLLARS in sales for 2013 – the year Rana Plaza collapsed. The company had 22 billion dollars in sales and all the workers who died only made a whopping 12 to 24 cents an hour.
So… Tell me how you can justify buying fast fashion because it’s cheap, when that’s how the costs actually work out. Even if you have no money and think it’s “all you can afford,” if you have an ounce of integrity, you’ll realize there is no excuse or justification for shopping there. Don’t believe me? Start in your own closet with this experiment – I dare you.
- Dump your entire wardrobe out in your room and count all the items you have in total.
- Try to remember (write down) their estimated retail value per piece. Think of how many times you’ve worn it, what’s the cost per wear?
- How long has it been since you wore it? Is it in good condition or has it fallen apart?
- Does it actually fit properly or look flattering?
Now, if there are any pieces you don’t totally love, don’t look good, are in poor condition, or you don’t really want – add up the estimated retail cost of all those. If you had been more aware of what you needed, wanted, or already had, and didn’t buy any of those items – would you have enough theoretical cash to spring for a few quality pieces that you could wear over and over? Probably.
So, can you really only afford fast fashion or do you just think at the time because you’re not planning, that it’s your only option? What you see in the glossy Instagram photos is not the reality of the situation. Wake up and smell the sweatshop. There are affordable, ethical alternatives and other ways to get around the “fast fashion is cheap and convenient and I’m broke” excuse. Be creative. After all, fashion is a creative form of self expression.
Even if you don’t have a lot of money, you can afford a quality wardrobe. You just have to commit to being a conscious shopper and caring about what you wear. Ask your clothes, who made you? Not, what did you cost. Because even if it was only a few dollars to you, would you have still bought it knowing the real exchange was actually a few human lives?